Why one Chicago dad is grocery shopping in his pajamas

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 4-year-old daughter, who wears footie pajamas like a boss.

“You’ve been grocery shopping wrong this whole time.”

“One simple trick to improve your grocery shopping experience.”

“A Chicago 4-year-old just changed the way grown-ups shop for groceries.”

You pick the click-bait headline, but they’re all true. Viva convinced me to do something silly this week and I might never be the same. I think it might qualify as one of these “life hacks” everyone is always going on about. Although, I swear people have gotten loose with the term “hack.” Didn’t “hacking” mean breaking into something or illegally modifying it in skillful way? Now it just means … doing stuff. Frankenstein’s monster was a life hack, not “eating an apple from the bottom.” Eating an apple from the bottom is just “one simple trick” towards grossing out your lunch mates.

Anyhow, Viva had been in a party dress all day and so Professor Foster gave her a bath and put her pajamas on early. Purple footie pajamas, specifically. She looked like an animate grape with pigtails. I, however, wanted to go to the store.

“Do you want to go to the store, Viva?”

“I can’t. I’m in my pajamas.”

“You can go to the store in your pajamas. Then we can read books when we get home.”

“Okay. Let’s go in our pajamas.”

“Okay, Let’s go.”

“But, Daddy … ”


“You need to put on YOUR pajamas.”

And so, I did. Nothing too crazy – black cotton pants, a t-shirt, a hoodie, running shoes. Not a Chewbacca union suit. Not He-Man Underoos. Nothing wild. Nothing gross. Nothing someone with a little less sense of sartorial decorum might not wear on purpose … but I was never the type to wear flannel pants to my 8 a.m.’s in college, and I would never be caught dead in sweatpants … at the store, at the gym or even alone in my house. No gentleman should be. As a matter of fact, if you do find me dead in sweatpants, know that I was murdered and put in sweatpants, then avenge me.

She looked like a cuddly grape. I looked like an aging ninja. It was kind of cute. Then we left for the store and I started to worry.

Now, we’re certainly not the first people to go to the store in pajamas. I see people in pajamas in stores all the time, but generally they are wearing a monitor somewhere on their body. I once heard a rich Manhattan socialite complaining about “those damned Italian women in Brooklyn buying groceries in their housecoats.” It struck me as a rather classist statement (and, as a damned Italian, rather bigoted), but the image of housecoat-wearing, becurled Grandmas squeezing tomatoes did seem unseemly. Were we breaking too much with etiquette? Would we lower property values in the neighborhood? Would my child be taken from my custody by a state agency?

We went to the Whole Foods on North Broadway. It’s a pretty sceney place, Edgewater-wise. I rarely get out without a few conversations with neighbors, theatre people or other parents from our hippie co-op preschool. But it was fairly late on a weeknight, so I figured no one would see my daughter and I looking for apple juice in our jim-jams.

I must tell you now, Dear Readers, it was a “Road to Damascus” moment for me, with a side of “Road to Morocco” buddy comedy. Wearing pajamas, I saw the grocery store in a whole new light. Instead of a place to look good in case I ran into neighbors, the grocery store became an extension of my home – it is a warehouse full of overpriced pantry items, after all, not Violet Hour.

We were comfy, we were laughing, we were racing the cart around. We bought too much cereal and dessert, but it was a riot. I saw the world as Viva probably sees it – as a giant playground to lay around on and run around in and eat samples. (Oh, yeah, we ate lots of samples.) And someday, when I’m an old tree trunk and she cuts me down to make a boat to sail away, I’ll think back to the time we went to the store in our pajamas and smile to myself as she hacks me up.

We ran into one person that we knew, and I quickly double-checked that the button on my fly was buttoned, but other than that I didn’t feel too foolish, and Viva couldn’t have been more adorable (She got salsa on herself at some point … but she even made that look good.) And when we got home we slipped right into snacks and stories. She thought it was a grand adventure.

I’m looking forward to going to the store in pajamas again soon. Maybe I’ll even upgrade to the Chewbacca union suit … maybe not. Who knows, I might start giving lectures in pajamas. Or going to eat in pajamas. (We’ll start with beef stands and pizzerias and see how it goes.) I already write these blogs in pajamas, but I’m pretty sure that’s the only way people write blogs.

Go on, try it yourself. Put your kid in their Batman PJ’s with the little cape and grab your flannel pants and Stone Temple Pilots concert tee or whatever you sleep in and head to a Mariano’s.

It’s a life hack that makes grocery shopping so much fun it’ll blow your mind.

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